David Harrower’s Blackbird, which had its world premiere at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival (See News, 12 Aug 2005), will transfer to the West End in the new year. Directed by legendary German director Peter Stein, who will make his West End debut with the production, it will have a limited season from 13 February to 13 May 2006 (previews from 7 February) at the Albery Theatre, where original cast members Roger Allam and Jodhi May will reprise their Edinburgh performances.

In Harrower’s “unflinchingly, darkly intense” play, specially commissioned by the EIF, Allam and May play Ray and Una, two people who had a relationship 15 years ago. Ray has made a new life for himself, he has a new identity, he didn't think he could be found. Una has thought of nothing else, and sets out in search of him with shattering consequences.

Allam is about to reprise his role as baddie Abbanazar opposite panto dame Ian McKellen in Aladdin at the Old Vic. Amongst his many other stage credits are Democracy, What the Night Is For, Summerfolk and Privates on Parade, the last two of which both won him Oliviers. May’s stage credits include The Talking Cure and Stein’s production of The Seagull at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival. Her screen credits include Tipping the Velvet and Daniel Deronda.

Although he works regularly across the world, Peter Stein’s last London stage outing was at the National in 1987 with his acclaimed production of The Hairy Ape, winning the Olivier Award for Best Director. Blackbird marks his West End debut. The production is designed by Ferdinand Wögerbauer, with lighting by Japhy Weideman, costumes by Moidele Bickel, music by Arturo Annecchino and sound by Ferdinando Nicci.

Scottish playwright Harrower’s previous credits include Knives in Hens (which won the Theater Heute Best Foreign Play in 1998) and Kill the Old Torture Their Young (which won the Meyer-Whitworth Award and the Pearson Award in 1999) as well as adaptations of Ivanov, Six Characters in Search of an Author and Woyzeck.

Opening next week at the Albery is Patrick Stewart’s one-man version of A Christmas Carol, which has a limited festive season from 6 to 31 December (See News, 23 Nov 2005). Blackbird is presented in the West End by MJE Productions.

- by Caroline Ansdell